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Which Washer Type is Right for You?

by Waverly Wilde

Washing machines provide the luxury of having clean clothes whenever we want, so choosing the right washer style for your lifestyle is important to figure out. Between features, sizes, prices, agitator versus impeller debates, and more, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to front load and top load washers.  

Both types are available in a variety of colors and most are equipped with popular wash options like steam, Wi-Fi connectivity, and varying degrees of energy and water efficiency, but it all comes down to your specific preferences: Do you have a large family? Do you reside in a small space? Do you require heavy washes often? Do you want to be more eco-conscious and waste less water? All are important questions to ask yourself when trying to decide on the right type of washer for you.

First, Consider Your Space

It’s important to pay attention to the size of the space where you’ll be putting your new washer because it may make a difference in your top load or front load decision making. If you’re planning on switching from top load to front load or vice versa, measure out where your cabinets are and if there is space for the door to swing open. Also, keep in mind that:

  • Top loaders are generally 12-14 inches taller with the lid open
  • Front loaders are generally 18-20 inches deeper with the door open at 90-degrees
  • Most front loaders are setup to have the washer on the left and the dryer on the right.

Electrolux white front load laundry pair in a well-organized laundry room

Electrolux’s line of front load laundry machines offer the flexibility of reversing the washer door on both the washer and matching dryer to fit your setup.

The Case For Front Load

The main benefit of a front load washer is in the tumbling, 360-degree wash action, which allows for:

  • More efficient operation – With less water used and faster final spins extracting water for reduced drying times, you’ll find that front load washers are extremely efficient appliances.
  • More usable capacity - Basically, if you can comfortably close the door, you’re good to go. It’s just important to remember that the larger the load, the longer the dry time.
  • More gentle washes -  You can expect a front load washer to be less aggressive on your clothes than a top loader.

Front load washers tend to be quieter than top load washers and they are also easier to access. Depending on your height, opening a top load and pulling out clothes could be difficult, but a front load is lower to the floor ensuring you’ll never have to stand on your tip-toes to throw a load in or take one out. Also, with front loaders, you have the ability to stack with a matching dryer pair, but a front load won’t allow you the same flexibility.

Front Load Flaws

One of the biggest issues regarding a front load washer is that once a cycle is going, it’s hard to add in an item. In fact, you may have to cancel and drain the full load just so you can toss in an extra piece of clothes. Mold and mildew in the gaskets have been another common front load complaint, but GE’s premium front-load washers addresses this issue with its innovative UltraFresh Vent System and OdorBlock technology.

The UltraFresh Vent System dries the gasket after completing a wash cycle to minimize moisture in critical areas and the OdorBlock technology involves infusing the gasket and key components with Microban antimicrobial components to ensure any remaining moisture does not cause odors or other problems.

Lastly, front load washers usually cost a bit more than top loaders. However, both options range considerably in price, and items with similar capacity and features (i.e. steam, Wi-Fi, etc.) tend to be priced similarly regardless of front or top load.

The Case For Top Load

Despite all the benefits of front load washers, top load popularity is growing rapidly. It may be due to familiarity since top load washers have been a traditional household staple in America for quite some time. A great example of this is Speed Queen’s line of commercial inspired top load washers. These are some of our best-selling washers – between both top and front load – even though there aren’t a lot of fancy features, settings or displays – in fact most models use rotary dials for operation!

white speed queen top load laundry pair

Simply put, it’s a hard working, durable washer that is dependable and works the way washers have always worked. Plus it’s backed by one of the best warranties in the business (three to seven years depending on the model).

A few other benefits of owning a top load include:

  • Being easier to service than a front load
  • Not having to worry about starting a load without that pair of socks that fell out of the basket on the way to the washer
  • Getting a more customized clean like the Deep Fill option on many top loaders.

This GE 4.7 cubic foot top load washer (GTW725BSNWS) Deep Fill feature allows for longer, more complete soaks to better break down loose soils. This GE model allows you to customize the water level at various depths (even a full tub fill) so heavily soiled clothes get an optimal clean. Another example is Whirlpool’s model (WTW6120HW) with built-in, dual temperature faucet and pretreat brush. You can soak, scrub and wash all in one spot and even add detergent to the water stream to spot-treat stains before they set in. The included pretreating brush allows for spot stain treating and tucks nicely in a hidden slot for future use.

Both of these features could only exist in a top load format. So, if you’ve decided on top load for either reason, the next choice is whether you want an impeller or agitator. The main difference between the two is that the agitator has a column and the impeller does not. The agitator’s column is in the center of the washer which oscillates to move the garments through sudsy water. The impeller is a plate on the bottom of the tub which uses low-profile cones, wheels, fins or discs that spray comparably less water and/or rotates to gently rub clothes against each other while they mix with the detergent.

From a wash standpoint, the agitator models generally clean and rinse detergent better than impeller models, but they do so using more water and by being harder on clothing. LG’s 5.0 cubic foot impeller washer (WT7300CW) is an example of impeller technology designed to overcome this issue. Its 6Motion™ Technology uses up to 6 different wash motions to provide better cleaning while remaining gentle and is combined with a 360 water delivery system to better soak items which greatly improves the wash performance.

Choosing the right washer can take a lot of time and thought, but if you feel overwhelmed at all we’re here to help you out! Our team at Grand Appliance and TV is available to answer your questions so give us a call or stop by today and we’ll get you set on the right path.